Is Facebook going down?

Mark Lazen is bold on the idea that facebook might soon be on death watch. One of the main points is that Facebook is trying to be all things to all people. (Sort of like AOL a few years ago.) Which is supposedly the first step of being nothing to nobody, resulting in comparative irrelevance.

I am of a more cynical mindset. I believe that when you’re everything, you are actually nothing.

Right – and not, at the same time. Yes, there will always be more specialized sites for everything FB offers. Flickr is better for photos (in quality, not quantity!), twitter is better for realtime status updates. Many community sites are more topically focused, gaming sites offer better games,… the list can go on and on.

But yet: Spreading your digital acitivities and personas over x-many sites is tedious. Especially if you have different IDs (ok, there will be solutions) and different social networks everywhere. Trying out the top-notch applications everywhere is only fun for the digitally inspired early adopters. For everyone else, a good solution will just do. And believe me: the majority is „everyone else“.

In my own personal circle of friends, facebook is still growing, gaining new fans everyday. (And watching the newsfeed has only become interesting in the last couple of months, as my own network of friends grew.)

I am convinced that the digitally inspired (native or immigrant) underestimate the size and power of the late majority. These people (most of my friends amongst these) will praise those sites, that make a digital whatever easy with a one-stop-shop solution. Of course the quality of the applications and offers can’t be sub-optimal. And for certain topics of interest people might migrate to a specialised competitor. But the rest of their digital activities they might still keep at places like facebook or other sites like it.

The key factor is relevance: as long as facebook offers sufficient relevance, aggregated across all service offers, applications and the individual social network, it will stay top of mind with a large audience. The problem only arises, if facebook becomes second rate at everything they offer. Here I assume: the personal social network is the last resort of stickiness. As soon as your own social network has mostly migrated to other sites, you don’t care to stay either.

What do you think?

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5 Kommentare

  1. The key points for facebook to maintain its popularity with a large and diverse audience will be to allow users to easily filter out what they don’t need/want, and to allow each user to create a truly personal experience.

  2. Thanks for reading Roland! I’ve already expressed my view (with more certainty than the reality merits–because otherwise everyone’s views would be dull to read 😉 )

    The only additional comment I would make: Yes it is tedious to use so many different vendors for the services we want–and yet the web has remained incredibly resistant to centralization.

  3. I think that facebook is on a downward spiral. All it needs to finally crash is another site that doesn what facebook used to do well.
    For me, the appeal of facebook was that it was CLEAN. Many people don’t know about hi5 but it was popular amongst non-Americans and was pretty much the same concept as facebook. People loved it. Untill ads took over. Then people were allowed to add music. It made the site cluttered and slow to load and now barely anyone uses it. We all migrated to facebook.

    It seems like facebook is going the same way. I’m not so much against the ads as I understand he needs to make money. The ads don’t take over the page at any rate so they can be ignored. The problem is all the apps that have been added and show up on you newsfeed (do i really care that Amy took the what bird are you most like quiz and is an ostrich?) and the addition of all these random sections that make the site to busy.

    Seriously, what is the difference between newsfeed and highlights? Why is there a photo feature on the left but to really see new photos you have to click the application button on the bottom? Why is events hidden? Isn’t that something people want to know. Why do they now list everyone’s birthday for the week? It was so much cleaner when you signed on and say a list of people who’s birthday was TODAY.

    You can see I have a lot of issues with fbook. The only reason I’m still on it is because a lot of my pics are saved on it and i haven’t found an alternative. After reading this article, I’m going to look into flickr.

  4. @ debtor: Do look into flickr, it’s great. But it’s entirely different of course, and it will only serve you as a picture platform, not as a connect&share platform.
    I agree that the news stream of FB has gotten rather cluttered with all those quizzes that have taken over. And the usability and layout of the various features is not really intuitive either. BUT: as a tool to quickly find out what’s generally happening in my „outer“ circle or people I know, it is unparalled so far. Only twitter is slowly gaining ground. If twitter would offer some more profile- and dialogue features, so that (for example) things like photos are accessible in a gallery style, and comments people have on certain tweets are directly accessible from those tweets, or conversations between people are visible in a linear fashion, then twitter would quickly outgrow FB both in terms of relevance and quantity of usage and users.

  5. I got a message from someone on MSN – it was a fake message from a virus, containing a link. I took care not to click the link, but sent a message on Facebook to that person to warn her that her hotmail account was hacked, and when I pasted the MSN message in the facebook one, facebook automatically opened that link that I didnt want to click, and gave me a preview! What happens when that link is clicked is that your MSN address is automatically added to a spam database and you will receive spam. Facebook did that for me, without asking. I might leave facebook soon, it used to be serious and safe, but now it is going down the road of hi5 and other before it. You can find me on orkut, which is btw faster and safer, and better quality software.
    What attracted me to facebook is how it gave me better control.

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